(Previously published August 1, 2010)
A Journey. Over rough terrain. Through the valley, across a river, meandering and navigating through the forest and trees, up a rocky cliff side, to the beautiful mountaintop where the view is glorious. The journey was all worth it. All the pain, all the bruises, the thirst as the sweat beat down your brow....trudging, plowing, moving quickly then ever so slowly with the Lord Jesus as your compass...your travel guide. You get to the top and breathe in the fresh mountain air, you sit on the top of that mountain and rejoice in His goodness.
We all want the mountaintop, don't we? Where the view spans the horizon and we can look at where God brought us.....to this place. A place that may be a temporary resting place. Or a place that my be somewhat lengthy. Only God knows.
Sometimes, the valley is a lot longer a journey than we ever thought it would be and we never think we will reach the mountain.
And sometimes, the mountain quickly fades away and we find ourselves slipping over the edge to yet another journey that we feel we weren't quite ready for and yet it is already underway.
In the past, that is how I have pictured many a journey that the Lord has taken me on. I've been to many valleys, I've traversed many rivers and I've sat on many mountaintops.
This current breast cancer journey is different. Instead of a picture of God's beautiful landscape, He has presented me with a very vivid picture of doors and passageways.
I can't escape the image. It is so real. So tangible. So present everyday.
I see a hallway and the hallway is long and narrow. There are no windows. There is nothing adorning the walls. But at the end of the hall there is a big white door with a shiny knob. The door is plain. There is no fancy decoration adorning it. It is a door.
My first door was on June 2nd. The day that we received the call from my breast surgeon, following my surgical biopsy that the cells showed cancer. There were two masses, both cancerous.
We waited for this phone call all day. We knew it was coming. But yet, God had prepared my heart for the news that I would receive that day. I knew, in the still quiet places of my heart, that cancer would be the pathology result. I just knew. Just as God had prepared me during my pregnancy with Joshua. I knew Joshua wasn't well from the beginning of that pregnancy. I didn't know it until much later, the mountaintop in my walk with the Lord on that journey. When I saw the picture clearer and was able to put the pieces all together and look back and remember and see God's faithfulness more clearly. I remembered the preparedness of the Lord.
June 2nd was the first door on this journey. My hand had been on the doorknob all day. When the call came in and my husband sat in the office on the phone with Dr. Chang hearing the news that would forever change our lives.....breast cancer, waiting more pathology results. Unsure if it was invasive or noninvasive. I saw the door and the door held the name Cancer.
I kept walking in and out of the room while he was on the phone. Almost pacing the floor. And then I remember standing before the desk, his head to the phone mouthing to him "cancer?" And he just gently shook his head yes.
I sat down, buried my head in my hands and cried, "no Lord, please no." I didn't want to turn the knob. I wanted to stop and just stand at this door. I didn't want to walk through.
But my hand had to turn that knob. I had to accept the diagnosis. I had to walk through that first door to other side. The other side demonstrated and resembled acceptance. Surrender to the God who created me. To the God that knows the end from the beginning. To the God who loves me. And He began ministering to my heart.
And one day turned into the next and then the next and we walked ever so tenderly down the hallway of this journey until we received the final diagnosis: Stage 1 Invasive DuctalBreast Cancer.
And door number 2 was visible. This door was labeled surgery. Again, the door was so vivid before me. We met with our breast surgeon and basically told that due to the size, the location, my current breast size and my age, a double mastectomy was being recommended.
Again, I knew again in my heart that door number 2 had to be opened and only I could open it. God needed to bring me and my husband into one accord though. Barclay struggled with it a bit. He prayed harder. He fasted. We prayed together. And God brought our hearts together in unity that this was God's will.
My hand reached out to the doorknob, turned it ever so slowly and my feet walked through the door on July 15th.
Because I have learned through many a trial that healing will not come until you walk through the door that God presents.
That is a hard one. We all want healing, but we all don't want to make the decision to walk through the door.
That is the surrendering of the mind and the will to the character, love, faithfulness to our God and Father, Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, we love. That is walking in faith. That is trusting. That is obedience. That is believing without seeing that God did in fact come to set the captives free.
You see. God is a patient God. When the door is before us. We can choose to just stand there in the pain for a long time. He will wait, but the door will not go away. Your door may say something else. Maybe it is loss of a child. I've stood at that door, too. Maybe divorce. Again, a door before me at the age of around 6 with my parents. A door that says unforgiveness. A door that says moving to a new unknown place. A door that says death, illness, spousal infidelity, job loss, betrayal.... the list goes on and on, but the choice is up to you.
The longer you stand in front of that door without opening it and accepting God's will into your life, the longer you leave time for Satan to work on your heart. Bitterness creeps in. Anger creeps in. Rebellion creeps in. Doubt creeps in. Fear creeps in. And before you know it, you are engulfed in those sins and you are not walking in the grace and righteousness of our God and Father. The door separates and God's healing isn't allowed into your heart. You try to heal on your own. You cry out to God for that healing you so desperately desire. But I believe, it won't come until you actually open the door and walk to the other side. Receiving.
It is an act of the will. It is letting go of your will and saying yes to God's will for you.
It is as Jesus cried in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was praying to His Father before He was to be arrested. He knew what was on the other side. He cried out to His Father "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39
Jesus opened the door and He walked to the other side. The side God asked Him to walk to. He gave His life, bore my sin and your sin upon that cross. He shed His blood and gave His life that we may through Him have eternal life and believe. So that you and me would choose to receive Him into our hearts, repent that we are a sinner and ask Him to come in and live. And the good news is that He isn't on that cross anymore. He is risen. He is alive. And you truly can enter into a love relationship with Him. That through Him alone, you have access to the Father.
1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men and that is Christ Jesus."
There is freedom. There is healing. It is obedience. It is faith all wrapped together. Jesus' act of His submission is an example for all of us to follow. But even with salvation, you have to walk through that door. You have to receive Him into your heart. No one can do it for you.
And God is bringing healing not only into my physical body, but into my heart as I have accepted His will for me.
But now, door number 3 is standing before me and for some reason. This door is the hardest. There are actually two doors painted before me. One door reads conventional treatment and one door reads alternative treatment. And I am struggling.
The conventional door says long and hard chemo and radiation. Losing your hair. Killing the good and the bad in my body. Depleting my body down to a breaking point only to then try to rebuild in the hope of killing any microscopic cancer cells floating around in my body. Cells that cannot even be detected. And radiation to again locally target my chest wall and lymph nodes, burning my skin, tightening and hardening the skin, and possibly causing other problems in other parts of my body. In the hope that any microscopic cancer cells are annihilated. The statistics stand as the defense. The view around me of breast cancer survivors a hallmark adorning these walls.
And the alternative door says go at it through dietary changes, nutrition, supplements, removing toxins and cleansing the body, juicing, testing your PH and alkalinity. It resembles for me, control. It is a path I began down almost 6 years ago when I began looking into vaccines and what they do to the body. When I looked into farming practices and saw our soil being depleted of any and all nutrients. When I looked at genetically modified food, high fructose corn syrup, dairy products and homogenization and pasteurization. As a family, we made many changes to our grocery shopping. Our milk comes raw directly from a farm about 5 miles away. Our meat usually from an organic farm which we buy in bulk, our eggs are farm raised and free ranging. I read labels. I try to by as much organic as I can afford. I changed our cleaning products. Our personal hygiene products...looked at Propylene Glycols, and Parabins. Looked at Sodium Laural Sulfates and fluoride. It spilled over into every area of our lives. And I saw control begin to work its way back into my heart. Thinking that I could control my environment enough that disease wouldn't be a part of our lives.
But I got cancer. And that was God's plan for me. My life is outside of my control. The lives of my children, our outside my control.
I can be a good steward. And I am called to walk in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I am called to live a consecrated life to Christ alone. To deny the flesh. To pursue holiness. That my body is the temple of the Lord as He lives and reigns in my heart.
All this and more I desire.
And now I am face to face with two doors that for me resemble fear, control, doubt and uncertainty.
I am at a standstill. I am frozen. I am ready to walk through that next door, whichever one it is for again, I know that healing will not come until I walk through.
I sat with God this morning and He began speaking to me in such a powerful way. He revealed these fears that I didn't even know I was holding onto. I confessed them to Him this morning. And the words He gave me were found in Romans 6:22-23
"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Receiving Christ, I have been let go from sin, set free. My sin was nailed to the cross with Christ. Eternal life is my gift. The fruit that I am to bear is to holiness.
This morning, God so clearly said to me to "Let Go and you will have life." This is the test of faith. And I am asking God exactly what it is I need to let go of?
We cling to the things that we think bring life. We stand at that door and say no, I am not walking through. There is another way. And if there isn't I am just going to stand here.
I have to walk through door number 3. I just need God to show me what exactly that merged door looks like. Where does conventional treatment meet alternative treatment. Do they? What in His eyes does that look like for me?
I've had many tell me with so much love what to do on the alternative side. I am thankful for each one of you. I am thankful for the advice, and much of it I have undertaken for the last 3 months. Some has worked. And some hasn't. And when you are the patient and walking in the shoes of cancer, the journey is much different. There isn't a quick cure. This cancer didn't develop overnight.
I'm not afraid of this cancer. I just want to do the will of my Father. I don't want to walk in the old ways of false control. I don't want to walk in the wisdom of man and yet I know God gave man wisdom to those who seek Him. I know God is in control and at the end of the day, He holds my life in His hands. He is sovereign. He is faithful. And He has purpose.
I just don't have this answer right now. And this week, I am meeting with two medical oncologists from two different hospitals. Next week, I meet with a team from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. And I am hoping to get in with an alternative doctor through Jefferson Hospital, Dr. Bazzan who treats people while treating disease.
I ask that you pray for me and my husband. That I would lay down the sin that so easily floods my heart and holds me back from the doors. That sends me to my bed wishing that these doors were different. I ask that you pray that God makes it clear which door we are to open and that I will be full convinced in my own mind that this is the way, walk in it. I choose to walk by faith. I trust that God will give me these answers.
And so, temporarily, I stand steadfast in my knowledge of God and His character looking at these two doors saying, "Lord, I will let go of whatever you want me to let go of. Show me. Lead me. Guide me. Help me."
Isaiah 58:8-9 "Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
This is my prayer.